• marycreedon

Sowing Seeds of Sovereignty: Updates from the Food Sovereignty Initiative, April 2020

Anpetu waste, Oyate! How have you been this past month? We are thinking of our community more than ever during this time, and hope that you are all staying safe and well. We've been doing our best to take care of ourselves and our loved ones and practice resiliency. As a team, Food Sovereignty Initiative staff spent April laying the groundwork for summer in the garden and continued our preparations for the expanded launch of the Lakota Harvest Market, coming this June.

We'll dive into our updates in just a minute, but first we have a few opportunities to let you to know about! We are currently hiring for a part-time, 20 hour per week Garden Assistant position. Applications are currently open; check out our Facebook page as well as Job postings on www.sicangucorp.com to apply. We are also hiring for our part-time summer garden internship. The deadline is May 15th, so don't wait! Applications can be submitted here.

Towards the end of March we cleared out our storeroom to make space to store garden produce as well as other inventory for our mobile markets. We will have meat, dry goods, and fresh produce for you available to purchase in most reservation communities this summer! Many thanks to the local grocery stores who are helping us as we navigate the world of grocery distribution and wholesale goods for the first time so that we can bring you healthy food at fair prices. A primary goal of our market is to provide opportunities for Tribal entrepreneurs AND increase food access for our community members, particularly access to local and indigenous products. If you are a Tribal food entrepreneur and are interested in having your products available to purchase at the Lakota Harvest Market, reach out to our Market Manager, Michelle Haukaas at michelle.haukaas@sicangucorp.com.

In addition to taking the Lakota Harvest Market mobile to outlying reservation communities, we are piloting a TSA, or Tribally Supported Agriculture program. The TSA is our take on a model you have have heard of before, CSA/Community Supported Agriculture. Our TSA will launch in June and will provide customers with a weekly box of fresh, seasonal produce as well as local eggs. We have a very limited number of boxes available for this first run, but we do have plans to expand the TSA in the future. Limiting the size of the pilot will allow us to work out all of the challenges of this new market model so that there are no issues before we increase the number of boxes available. When we do expand, you can rest assured that the TSA will accept SNAP/EBT, just like we do at the Lakota Harvest Market.

In order to have produce for you at the markets this summer, we've been busy starting seeds this past month! In order to keep our team safe, we took a break from working together at the garden and greenhouse in early April and FSI Programs Coordinator Hollis Vanderlinden, as well as full-time AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers Sydney Dynek and Mairi Creedon have been planting and nurturing all varieties of seedlings at home. Once seedlings are strong enough, they get to spend a few hours outdoors each day to 'harden' them off before transplanting into the ground (it would be a rather rough transition from life inside otherwise)! So far we've started different varieties of tomatoes, sweet peppers, hot peppers, shallots, leeks, onions, herbs, brassicas (think brocooli, cabbage, brussel sprouts), cucumbers, zucchini. We've also started flower seedlings to provide nectar for our bees.

Onion seedlings taking root.

We're coming up on one full year of having bees up at the garden! In addition to creating honey (bee food) out of nectar, our bees are great pollinators - they help flowering plants reproduce. Pollinators are essential to our food system - worldwide, they help bring us one out of every three bites of food. Our garden is both a teaching and production garden, and it's great to have bees in the garden to help our community members and future food producers learn about the essential role they play in our food system. We originally purchased two hives for our garden last year, and unfortunately, only one hive survived the winter. Our beginning beekeepers worked hard last fall to make sure the bees had everything they needed to survive the winter, but there are a number of reasons why they may not have survived. We'll be looking for a replacement colony sometime this summer, and have chosen to take this as a learning opportunity to make sure our hives go into next winter strong and prepared.

Checking on our honey bees in early April.

The start of spring has also been a time for us to expand our chicken flock! Earlier this month FSI Market and Garden Managers Michelle Haukaas and Ed Her Many Horses made the journey to Yankton, SD to pick up some more laying hens and pullets (young hens who are not yet laying eggs). For now, the chickens are still living at their winter location, with an expanded run to make space for all the new members of the flock. We're still getting their run up at the garden ready (in a different location from last year in order to practice crop and animal rotation), but we're excited for their move to the garden sometime next month.

Chickens settling in to their new home.

As part of our efforts to connect Tribal food entrepreneurs with community members, we're excited to announce the launch of our new radio show, Food Revolution. The show will air every other Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10:15 AM starting May 18th on KOYA FM, the local radio station owned & operated by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. We'll be focusing on stories of food sovereignty from community members and food producers who are working to transform the food system here on the Rosebud. One of our earlier shows will shine a spotlight on our WIK interns, who are still busy learning and planting at home, so don't forget to tune in! Know someone who works with food that we should feature, or a story that we should share? Don't hesitate to reach out to our content developer, Mairi Creedon at mary.creedon@sicangucorp.com to pitch your ideas!

If you aren't able to tune in to Food Revolution when it airs, we've got a whole host of digital content for you to dive into! Since we can't offer cooking classes at the Boys and Girls Clubs and the Sicangu Owayawa Oti during this time, we're bringing the cooking classes to you. Tune in to our Facebook every Wednesday at 5:30 PM Central where we bring you a live weekly cooking class for kids! Check out the Sicangu Community Development Corporation page every Tuesday to get the recipe ahead of time so you can cook along. In addition to our weekly cooking classes, we've relaunched our YouTube channel and are bringing you cooking, gardening, and wild harvesting how-to videos each Friday.

April has also been a busy planning month for the SFSI. We were awarded a grant from The FruitGuys, a family owned and operated B-Corp, which will allow us to plant fruit trees around our garden. These trees will serve as a windbreak and will allow us to provide local fruit to our community in a few years. The grant will also allow us to purchase equipment to make our own garden mulch on-site, helping us on our journey to becoming a small-scale model of no-till, regenerative agriculture. The transition to regenerative agriculture is a key part of our Vision for a regenerative Rosebud.

Earlier this year, we became semi-finalists for the Food System Vision Prize, which invites organizations across the world to develop their Vision for a nourishing and regenerative food system they hope to create by 2050. Since this Vision is for all members of our community, we want to hear from YOU! We launched our weekly social media challenge during Unci Maka week in order to get input from our community members as to what our Vision should entail. Each week, we'll be posting a different question on our Facebook page for you to respond to. If you're feeling up to it, we'd love for you to make a video! Check out the #3SistersSocialMediaChallenge on Facebook to see what other community members are thinking and to become part of the conversation!

We are beyond excited to be semi-finalists for the Food System Vision Prize!

While reimagining an entire food system is a fairly complex topic, our Vision is centered around our community and empowering all of our relatives to take care of themselves and their families through food. This past month, we've been working to make a small part of that Vision tangible by distributing seeds to communities and families. Last fall, the RST Elderly Nutrition program donated seed packets to the SFSI, making this new venture possible. For the past month our team members have been busy sorting and bundling seed packets and creating easy planting guides for you to follow.

So far, we've distributed seeds to Okreek, Spring Creek, and Upper Cut Meat communities. We've shared seeds with our partners at Tiwahe Glu Kini Pi and sent seeds home with students at the Todd County schools. We are still in the process of reaching out to communities and programs to continue arranging seed distribution, and are excited to be sharing seeds with Two Strike, Ring Thunder, and the RST Childcare program this week. Our team is small and we are doing our best to connect with as many communities and programs as possible, so please be patient with us as we have limited capacity. If you are a program interested in seed packets for a garden, you can contact us via Facebook. If you are a community member interested in seeds, reach out to your community president and ask them to contact Mairi Creedon at mary.creedon@sicangucorp.com regarding seed distribution in your community.

AmeriCorps VISTA Sydney Dynek with seed bundles for Spring Creek & Upper Cut Meat communities; sorted legumes, greens, herbs, flowers, and root veggies.

What have you been up to this past month? Have you or any friends or family members started seedlings or prepped your garden beds? Are you harvesting wild foods? Have you learned a new food preservation or cooking technique, or continued practicing some old ones? We would love to hear about the role that food has been playing in your life lately. And above all, stay safe & be well!

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